December 11, 2011

Participating in Life

Now for a generational, sneering edition of…


I’m really getting sick of the same canned “complaint” about the younger generation, whether my own or ones after or even a little before, that we expect life to be fair all the time. This is blamed on school and maybe parents that supposedly give out awards just for participating, hoping to squash competition in order to prevent anyone from “feeling bad”. Or occasionally blamed on pop culture telling stories implying nothing seriously bad will ever happen to you.

And that all these messages have supposedly spoiled us and made us think life is perfect or that we’re good at things even when we’re not.

Speaking as someone whose schools and teams and such did have participation awards…


How stupid do you think we are?

We know good and goddamn well that the swim team trophy that’s awarded to anyone who signed up for it that year regardless of participation means little and is just a decoration. We know the Participant ribbons don’t say First Place. We know the others finished the race three whole minutes before we did.

There were times even at school when a C I got for a marking period wasn’t truly a C, and was marked as such only because the teacher figured she’d give me another chance to really get a better grade, that it would otherwise have been an E.

Yes. E. The failing grade. Not that F bullcrap. I like E. It makes more sense. Why go A B C D F? Why are you skipping a fucking letter?! You’re supposed to be an educational establishment yet you’re forgetting the fifth letter of the alphabet and the most common in the English language? Hell no! :doitnow:

Did it make me feel like I’d have life handed to me? Not at all. I was actually trying. And I really did do better the following terms usually.

Maybe instead of looking at these little breaks and superfluous “awards” and assuming we’re not only spoiled and padded from failure and mistakes but that we really think there’s nothing else, you should actually look at our lives.

There are kids in these “spoiled” generations who before the age of 10 had lost a parent, had to battle cancer, suffered a horrible accident and had to lose a leg, or had their home burn down. Yeah, I don’t think any of these people are thinking life is perfect no matter how many Participant ribbons you give them, and it doesn’t help to presume that just because they might have those ribbons means they think so.

And you don’t need to look down on these kids for thinking life is perfect. Life is pretty damn good at making its glaring imperfections known on its own, no matter what the runs per inning limit is on your youth softball team. All the kids on that team have had something bad happen, to varying severities, I guarantee it.

In fact, it’s a typical anti-youth sentiment to assume kids’ lives are always perfect and that everything about their lives is trivial. It’s this assumption of trivial kid lives that makes one totally ignore that the unfairness of life hardly spares kids. You think that little boy is spoiled because he got a Wii for Christmas, but not seeing that he’s being regularly molested by his uncle and is terrified to speak up about it to anyone. Still think his “kid problems” are trivial, asshole?

So no, we don’t need to make kids realize life isn’t fair. Believe me, they know.

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